A close-knit group with good team speed.
That’s how Rylan Ferster describes the 2012-13 edition of his West Kelowna Warriors.
The B.C. Hockey League club will open the new campaign this weekend in Chilliwack at the league’s first ever showcase tournament.
The Warriors will battle Surrey on Saturday and Salmon Arm on Sunday to open the new campaign.
With a full season now behind him as the club’s head coach and GM, Ferster has a better sense of the Warriors’ identity and what to expect each time they take to the ice.
“It was tough coming in here last year, being new and not being familiar with a lot of the kids,” said Ferster, whose Warriors finished sixth in the Interior Division and missed the playoffs last season. “But this year, there are no excuses. They know me and I know them and we’re on the same page when it comes to what we want to accomplish. Our staff has done a really good job if getting us ready. We’re excited to get started.”
Ferster’s club is coming off a promising exhibition schedule as the Warriors posted a 2-1-1 record. On Friday night, Brett McKinnon’s dramatic buzzer beater with .1 second left in the third period gave the Warriors a 5-4 win over the Wenatchee Wild at Royal LePage Place.
The game featured a first-period line brawl, a melee Ferster said will likely result in a couple of suspensions.
A night earlier, the Warriors knocked off the defending national champion Penticton Vees 4-3.
Ferster said both wins displayed a level of character that wasn’t prevalent on last year’s squad.
“We had a 3-0 lead against Penticton and blew it, but we were still able to get the win. Against Wenatchee we scored late to get the win. There’s a fine line between winning and losing and I think last year those are games we would have lost. Last year we found ways to lose. Hopefully this is a positive sign we’ll be a different team in that way.”
Ferster said the Warriors will be led into battle by a solid corps of veterans this season,
including captain Max French, Josh Monk, Shawn Hochhausen and Brett McKinnon.
The Warriors BCHL home opener is Friday, Sept. 14 against Penticton.